Good Bones

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Laguna Beach Architect Anders Lasater award-winning Beachitos is a prefab marvel of modular steel in North Laguna fashioned with new technology and new methods of construction.

By: Jessie Dax-Setkus/ Photography by Chad Mellon

According to Sheri Koones, the author of “Prefabulous Small Houses,” the ideal home is one “that is attractive, comfortable, maintains a healthy interior environment, conserves energy and water, exceeds the local building requirements, is cost-effective, requires minimal maintenance and is constructed in as short a time as possible.” That is exactly what Laguna Beach architect Anders Lasater created for a local couple who had found a property on PCH in North Laguna with two apartments above and commercial space on the main floor: a sustainable home that will stand the test of time.

Lasater sold the couple on BONE Structure, a prefabricated construction system from a Canadian company he was interested in trying. The mostly recycled steel-based system is robotically manufactured, cut and shipped to a building site in stages, where it’s fastened together by a few workers. It uses foam insulation that can reduce energy costs up to 90 percent compared to a traditionally constructed home.

“The construction of this home is really what makes it different from a conventional home,” says Lasater, who finished the home in 2020. Once finished, the elegantly designed duplex, laid out across a five-foot by five-foot grid of light gauge steel columns and beams that join with one-quarter-inch hex screws, was dubbed “Beachitos” by the owners. It’s the first of its kind in Laguna Beach.

Roughly 4,000 square feet, the house is designed as a duplex, with a larger three-bedroom unit on the upper floor, which is 2,700 square feet, and a lower two-bedroom unit that is 1,300 square feet. The larger unit offers a spacious living area and great room along with an art studio for the artist owner. There is also a gym that has a breathtaking view of the ocean.

Additionally, there is master bath, powder room and a shared bath between the two guest bed- rooms. There are several decks and outdoor living spaces, which allow the owners to fully enjoy the California sunshine.

The house was designed so the owners could rent out the lower unit to a tenant. There are two garages on the property so both the owners and renter have a space to park on-site.

The showstopper of this home is that it was designed around an interior courtyard. “We created a central courtyard, or ‘doughnut hole’ garden in the center of the plan and wrapped both units around the void to allow natural light to penetrate deeply into the center of the units,” says Lasater. “On the lower floor, the central garden becomes an outdoor living area, increasing the visual size of the lower unit by extending the living space outside.”

The owners had a unique perspective when it came to maintenance, says Lasater, using smooth plaster, which holds up well in the salty air. Cumaru, which is a Brazilian ironwood, was utilized throughout the home and taps into the homeowner’s South American heritage. “Between the plaster and the wood siding, you’ll never have to do anything major to the home ever,” Lasater says.

Building a home with prefab, modular and fac- tory-built elements can have significant advantages over traditional construction in that waste is minimized, production time is maximized and savings can be seen in construction time and construction budget if the right system is deployed in the right way for the right project, says Lasater. “Like finding the right shoes for your feet, it’s not a one-size- fits-all kind of solution,” he says. “Prefab options need to be tailored to the project location, size and homeowner’s needs and be considered as one of many options that may be suitable for that need. While not a silver bullet for solving the housing and construction challenges we face, it is a powerful tool in our tool belt that offers viable options for homeowners that did not exist five years ago.” (anderslasaterarchitects.com)

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